17 February 2010

Goals and the Business of Setting Them

Whenever I'm out running, or riding the bus to work, I always think up topics I'd like to talk about on the blog. I then promptly forget about said topics when it comes to writing my blog in the evening. But I have been thinking about something lately and, luckily, I happen to remember it right now.

This year, I want it to be a great year in terms of my racing. I've hired a coach, I am being smart in terms of the number of races I'm doing this year, I have the opportunity to do two Ironmans, and I'm not in school any longer (haven't officially graduated thanks to one of my professors NOT submitting my grades for a 50 page paper I slaved over, a situation I hope is resolved ASAP) and thus have more time to devote to training and sleeping. I'm starting to make (small) changes to my eating habits - less meats, more fruits and veggies, the whole "eating clean" concept, but I'll never swear off chocolate as long as I live. I have set some moderately ambitious goals for myself that I think are reasonably achievable.

And that brings me to the business of confidence, a crucial part of setting - and meeting - goals. I've become a more confident person overall since I picked up triathlon, both in the sport and outside of it. But I'm still sometimes afraid to go there - to set really ambitious goals because, if I don't meet them, what does that mean, what will it do to my confidence, and will it undermine me as an athlete? If I'm shooting for a certain race time and I've built it up in the weeks leading up to the race and felt fully confident that I CAN meet that particular time... and then, partway through the race I look at my watch and realize it's totally not feasible. Will I give up? Will I feel like the race is a waste and just stop trying my hardest? Will I be angry at myself that I didn't get a certain time, even if I did really well in the grand scheme of things?

Psychologically, it's always easier to set easier goals for oneself, ones that you know you can easily reach, because then you don't feel like a failure, yet you didn't really have to push yourself to the limits. In a sense, you are settling. Those who are truly great, who are going faster and harder than anyone else - they aren't setting easily attainable goals. They are setting ambitious goals, doing the grueling training, and then racing their hardest on race day - both physically and mentally - to reach that certain time or certain AG placing.

So, here's to training the mind to create ambitious goals and forcing the body to follow through with the training and racing. Here's to not fearing failure and realizing that if you don't push your limits and flirt with the possibility of failure, you're just shortchanging yourself and limiting your potential. Full speed or nothing at all!


Chelsea said...

:P this is why my continuing goal for the swims is not to drown.....

Jennifer Harrison said...

YES Caroline! 2010 is going to be the best one everrrr! :)